Sunday, February 27, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - February 28

My biggest school event is over, so things can get back to normal around here, whatever that means.  We only have Lacrosse and Gymnastics going on currently, which makes for easier weeks. 

Sunday - Book Club -  appetizers and wine for me
                 Everyone else -
Monday - Meatball Subs, Veggies and Ranch Dressing
Tuesday - Shrimp Quesadillas with Salad
Wednesday - Mexican something - thinking a variation of this Mexican Casserole
Thursday - Ham, Spinach and Cheddar Quiche (based on this recipe from Good Cheap Eats)
Friday - Baked Potato Bar, Fruit
Saturday - Homemade Pizza (Black Bean and Spinach for me, Pesto for the kids)

For hundreds more great meal plans, visit I'm An Organized Junkie

What's For Lunch - February 21st

Not very exciting this week I must say, but I stayed out of the driv thru and school cafeteria!

Monday - home with a sick child - Ham and Salami Sandwich, Potato Salad, M &Ms
Tuesday - leftover Potato Soup
Wednesday - Chicken Nuggets, Banana
Thursday - Leftover Grilled Chicken Salad
Friday - Chili Dogs and Fries at The Varsity on School Trip

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Purse Stitch Scarf

I knitted this great scarf in about 3 hours.  It is a fantastic, easy pattern, too bad I seem to have misplaced it!  I even bought yarn to make another scarf in red and can't find the pattern.  I am sure it will turn up, but for now I can tell you it is made using the purse stitch, a stitch I had no idea even existed until I found this pattern.   I used one skein of Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn in Pumpkin. 

Close up of stitches - there are several tutorials on Youtube for learning to make the purse stitch. 

Linked to
Sundae Scoop at I heart Naptime
Made By You Monday at Skip to My Lou
SYS at Somewhat Simple
Fireflies and Jellybeans
It's  A Blog Party
Tatertots and Jello
The More the Merrier

Chicken Noodle Soup

I have always wanted to make my own Chicken Noodle Soup, but thought it would be too much work.  So, when my co-worker made some and raved about how good, quick and easy it was I had to have the recipe.  I altered this Food Network Kitchens recipe to suit our tastes.  It is now a menu staple at our house.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 c medium onion, thinly sliced
2 small carrots, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch rubbed thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 c chicken broth (I use homemade)
1/2 c water
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/3 pound wide egg noodles
1 1/4 c shredded, cooked chicken (2 breasts seasoned with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning - roasted)
1/2 c frozen peas

Put onion, carrots, celery, thyme, chicken broth and water in a stock pot.  SEason wtih salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Simmer until vegetables are almost tender, about 5 minutes.   Add noodles and cook until tender, 5 - 8 minutes more.  Add the chicken, warm through and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Add frozen peas and cook for 1 - 2 minutes before serving. 

Linked to
Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life As Mom
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
Frugal Food Thursday at Frugal Follies
Full Plate Thursday at Mis Helen's Country Cottage

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - Febrary 21

Well, the stomach bug has hit again this week, this time it is my poor son that is suffering from it.  Hopefully this will be the last time it makes an appearance at our house this winter. 

Sunday - Strip Steak, Cheese Grits, Peas and Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
Monday - Delicious Ham and Potato Soup, Grilled 5 Grain Bread
Tuesday - Wendy's
Wednesday - Marinated Baked Chicken Breast with Salad
Thursday - STAR Teacher Banquet
Friday - Academic Decathlon State Competition
Saturday - Academic Decathlon State Competition Banquet

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What's For Lunch - February 14

This week did not play out the way I wanted it to .  My husband was admitted to the hospital Tuesday and Wednesday for a stomach bug gone really bad.  He is fine, but my lunch plans for the week were crazy!  No lunch one day, hospital food another and the dreaded school cafeterial food another.  But, I am deteremined to show the good, bad and ugly on this blog, so here is what I ate this week....

Monday - Fish Sandwich and Mac and Cheese (Sunday night leftovers)
Tueady - no lunch - In ER
Wednesday - Parmesan Chicken, Cooked Cabbage and Mac and Cheese from the hospital cafeteria
Thursday - Cheese Hamburger, fries and mandarin oranges from school cafeteria
Friday - Fettucini Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli

Menu Board

A long time ago, I saw a great idea to turn an old picture frame into a menu board.  (Wish I knew where I originally found it to give credit)  I LOVED it and set out to make one.  Well, turns out my friends and family loved the idea too.  Once they saw it in my kitchen, they just had to have one. 

There are several things I like about this menu board:
1.  It does not use chalk (just not a fan - too many years of being covered in it from teaching - before whiteboards)
2.  It is soooooo easy to customize.
3.  It is cheap.
4.  We actually USE it!

I made this one for our kitchen -

This one was a gift for my sister's birthday.

And I made this one for a friend for her birthday.

Supplies -
1 11 x 13 hanging wall frame
stickers, Cricut or Silhouette for letters
3 or 4 coordinating fabric (scraps are great)
3 brads
spray glue
hot glue and gun
dry erase marker in matching color

1.  Spray glue on the picture frame backing.  Adhere piece of burlap,  cut to fit.
2.  Cut 9 - 12 circles in various sizes in 3 - 4 different fabrics.
3.  Using circles and brads, make 3 flowers
4.  Adhere flowers in bottom corner of frame using hot glue (make sure all flowers can be seen even when frame is on)
5.  Hot glue ribbon across top of frame.
6.  Adhere MENU letters in desired location.
7.  Adhere letters for days of the week.
8.  Reassemble frame.
9.  Display and use dry erase marker to make your menus.

Linking up to
Tatertots and Jello

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - February 14th

This week will be a busy one, with 2 basketball games and lacrosse practice as well as gynmastics and Girl Scouts thrown in.  Add to that Girl Scout Cookie pickup and delivery and it is one crazy week.  My menu this week depends on quick family favorites to keep us out of the drive thru. 

Sunday - Fried Tilapia (from Costco - YUM), Mashed Potatoes, Corn and Rolls
Monday - French Dip Sandwiches, Chips, Veggies and Ranch Dip
Tuesday - Fettucine Alfredo with Broccoli and Chicken, Chopped Salad
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Ham and Potato Soup
Friday - Make Your Own Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Supper Club

For more great menu plans and recipes, visit I'm An Organized Junkie

What's For Lunch - February 7th

Week 6 of my "Bring My Lunch to Work" project.  I sooooo did not want to pack my lunch Sunday night!  No leftovers, no sandwich meat, no good snacks... I really just wanted to "plan" to pick up Zaxby's or eat in the cafeteria.  I knew I had to come up with something to make me head back to the kitchen and pull a decent lunch together, so I did the math. 

1 trip to Zaxby's  - $8.00
4 days eating in the cafeteria - $14.00
5 days Coke from the vending machine - $3.75

Total Saved/Week - $25.75

I got my lazy behind up off the couch and made lunch!

Monday - PB & J, Fruit, Babybel Cheese
Tuesday - Ham, Salami and Cheese Sandwich, Cheez-Its, Brownie
Wednesday - Bean with Bacon Soup, Crackers, Yogurt with Granola 
Thursday - Ham, Salami and Cheese Sandwich, Cheez -Its, Banana-Orange Muffin
Friday - Vanilla Yogurt and Granola, Banana - Orange Muffin

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Frosting

This recipe is originally from Liz at Hoosier Homemade.  She included it in her latest Cupcake Chronicles Newsletter.   She used raspberry preserves and juice in the original frosting and the cake recipe originated with Martha.  If you do not subscribe to Cupcake Chronicles, you really should, there are some great cupcake ideas in each issue!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Frosting

3/4 c cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 salt
2 large eggs
3/4 c warm water
3/4 c buttermilk
3 T oil
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard muffin cups with paper liners; set aside.  Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.  Mix until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 15 minutes. 
Makes 21 cupcakes.

Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 c shortening
1/4 c cherry preserves (or other flavor of your choice)
2 T Cherry Liqueur or cherry juice
4 - 6 c powdered sugar

Cream the butter, shortening and cream cheese until smooth.  Mix in preserves and liquid.  Slowly add the powdered sugar until you get the consistency you like.  Frost cupcakes.

Linked to
Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as Mom
What's Cooking Thursday at Feeding Four
Sweet Tooth Friday
Ingredient Spotlight - Chocolate

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

My kids LOVE to eat cookie dough and while I'm not too obsessive about the raw eggs in the occasional taste, but the occasional taste just doesn't satisfy their cookie dough desires.  I was thrilled when I found a recipe for Cookie Dough Truffles.  We tried them out this weekend and dang if they don't taste just like my Chocolate Chip Cookies! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour, all purpose
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I just chopped up some regular choc. chips in my mini chopper)Chocolate Almond Bark
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy, beat in vanilla. Gradually add the flour, alternating with the milk. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Chill for 2 hours.  Roll into balls, dip in chocolate and let harden on parchment paper. 

Linked to Ingredient Spotlight

Kitchen Goals Update - January

For the past two years I have set goals for myself in the kitchen.  I find these goals really push my culinary skills and creativity and keep me in the kitchen insteaad of dialing for take out.  One of the added benefits of spending time in the kitchen is one on one time with my kids.  On most days, one or both kids can be found in the kitchen helping at least for a little while, building stronger family relationships and learning valuable life skills.  You can find my 2011 list of kitchen goals here.

January's Goals was to Eat From The Pantry.  I participated in Life As Mom's Pantry Challenge and we were extremely successful.  See my results here.

One of my year long goals is to use my extensive Southern Living Cookbook Collection by making at least 2 new recipes each month.  I made 2 new recipes that are now staples in my kitchen.  Peanut Butter Granola and Cocoa-Almond Biscotti, both are fantastic!

Another goal is to bring my lunch to school more often.  My goal states 3 times/week, but so far, since January 3rd, I have packed my lunch each day except for one and that was a planned celebration.  I am tracking my progress in my What's for Lunch posts.  These posts keep me accountable and give  me inspiration. 

All in all, so far so good on my goals. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meal Plan Monday - February 6

The busiest 3 weeks of my year have just started - the 3 weeks where basketball season and lacrosse season overlap.  Add to that the 2 days a week of weight training for spring football and we have something every day.  What does that mean for my meal plan?  Lots of quick, easy meals because with this much actvity, my son needs balanced meals, not carb heavy, greasy drive thru foods.

Sunday - Ribs, Football Dip, Veggies and Ranch Dip, Brownies
Monday - Bean and Bacon Soup, Assorted Cheeses and Crackers, Brownies
Tuesday  - Meatball Subs, Chopped Salad
Wednesday - Cube Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Thursday - Rice Bowls, Layered Salad, Fruit
Friday - Delicious Ham and Potato Soup and Rolls
Saturday - Leftovers

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Freezer Cooking - February

Jessica at Life As Mom is gearing up for her monthly freezer cooking session.  I will be joining her.  After more than a month long Pantry Challenge, I need to replenish a few staples.  I will also be baking some treats for snacking this month as well.

Here's the plan -

Homemade Chicken Broth and Chicken
Cooked, Seasoned Hamburger
Chopped, Cooked Ham

Blueberry-Orange Muffins (upcoming post)
Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Cookie Dough Truffles (this is a new to us recipe)
Chex Mix

I will post about my progress on Monday.

What's For Lunch - Week of January 31st

I had a rough week at work and I was REALLY tempted to give in to the desire to just eat Zaxby's everyday to make myself feel better.  But, I knew in the long run I would actually feel worse, so I persevered in my goal of taking my lunch to work everyday.  Here's what I enjoyed this week.

Monday - Chicken Salad, Croissants, Pea Salad, Banana
Tuesday - Chicken Salad, 1/2 Bagel, Pea Salad
Wednesday - Chicken Salad, Croissant, Banana
Thursday - PB & J, Fritos, Babybel Cheese, Fruit Cocktail
Friday - Leftover Pizza, Babybel Cheese, Fruit Cocktail, Sugar Cookies

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Friday Favorites - Chinese Food Edition

There is a definite theme with this week's links!  I have been craving Chinese food, but not enough to break my no eating out streak for 2011, so online I went to find some great recipes.  I will be trying these soon.

Simple Sesame Noodles
from Pioneer Woman

Honey Glazed Chicken Stir Fry
from Simple Mom

Pork Pot Stickers
from The Random Ramblings of a Working Mom

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Valentine Crafts

I'm really not one to decorate for Valentine's Day, but there are so many great Valentine crafts online that I just couldn't resist making some of them. 

First - this cute topiary from Simply Crafty -

This adorable frame, also from Simply Crafty

and finally, these fantastic wood blocks from My Garden of Eden.   I have wanted to make some embellished blocks for a while now and these seemed like a great first project.  They were so easy and I really like how they turned out.

So thanks to all you creative crafy bloggers, who come up with these great ideas for me to steal and make my house more festive!

Linked to Made By You Monday at Skip to My Lou
Strut Your Stuff at Somewhat Simple
It's a Blog Party's Hugs and Kisses Valentine's Party
Weekend Wrap Up at Tatertots and Jello
Show Off Your Stuff at Fireflies and Jellybeans

Hot Corn Dip

This is my go-to appetizer recipe.  I like it because it is easy, made from items I always have in my pantry and everyone loves it.  It always makes an appearance for the Super Bowl and I am constantly asked for the recipe.  It is best served with Fritos Scoops.  Enjoy!

1 15 oz. can yellow corn, drained
1 15 oz. can white corn, drained
1 10 oz. can Rotel with cilantro and lime
1 8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t cumin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium baking dish, mix white corn, yellow corn, Rotel, cream cheese, chili powder, garlic powder and cumin.

Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until hot bubbly.  Serve with Fritos Scoops.

Linked to Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam
Delicious Dishes at It's A Blog Party
Ulitmate Recipe Swap at Life As Mom
Eat at Home Ingredient Spotlight